Hello everyone!, this friday I will have my new mac mini server with me. My question is relating its 2 hard drives;how should I manage data? Should I install the OS in both of them? what should I place in the second hard drive? I know having a separate hard drive for your audio utilizations is better, but how? I mean, should I place plugins, daws, samples,etc. or what in it? Thanks!

4 Answers 4


Drive 1 - Put the OS, all applications, plug-ins etc

Drive 2 - All media, so projects, samples, audio content etc.

The basic rule is that the operating system and applications should be on a drive together and you shouldn't put any media on that drive. S all projects, samples etc on the second and subsequent drives.

Hope that helps,


  • Thank you too Mike! your answer is very similar to Tim's, those are 2 recommending the same, should work great :)!. Just a doubt...when you say (in "drive2") -projects-, you mean like, the protools session file? or you only meant like, all audio? Thank you for your help May 10, 2012 at 6:47
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    Project drives should contain all the media and session documents. Pro Tools creates a folder when you create a new session inside of which it puts the session document and an Audio Files folder for the media for that session. You should put these on your Projects drive. Never split up the media and the session file, it will go horribly wrong at some point. May 23, 2012 at 8:25
  • Thank you Mike! I had it the wrong way (and pretty non-sense I guess). I had my pro tools "ptf"s and their audio files folders and backup and everything in the same drive where I have the applications, OS and so on. I will now move it to drive 2 with all samples and stuff. Quick question: do you set up pro tools to make a copy of the audio you will be using whenever you are importing a sample or something? or do you set it up so that pro tools only "references" it from the original folder the sample came from? May 31, 2012 at 1:57
  • I nearly always use Copy so that the audio is in the Audio File folder of the session. There is a setting in the Preferences to force it to Copy but I always check to make sure as well. Referencing or linking is quicker but there is always the risk of deleting the folder where the files are or when you take the project somewhere else the referenced files are no longer available. May 31, 2012 at 10:05

Depends what you're using it for?

if working to video I would split it

Drive 1 - OS/apps & video

Drive 2 - all audio

this way if say you're running a big session & working to picture, the data throughput/workload when you hit play is spread between drives... works for me (my assistants PT10 station is mac mini server quad with 2 internal drives)

But if you aren't working to picture/video then you'd reassess what demands are being put on the drives for real time playback.... eg streaming sample libraries vs audio tracks

FWIW I have always run QTs (720p or 1080p PhotoJPG) off the same drive as the OS & apps

  • Thank you Tim! working to picture is precisely the way I am going, and this way you describe totally makes sense. Grazzie! May 10, 2012 at 6:45

Just to echo, here's my desktop rig:

Drive 1 (120GB SSD) - OS, Applications, Plugins

Drive 2 (1.5 TB) - Personal documents, music, videos, client information

Drive 3 (1 TB) - Pro Tools Audio only

Drive 4 (1 TB) - Video for Pro Tools only (all in DV25 format, using DVCPRO codec)

Drive 5 (1 TB) - Sound FX Library (all linked to SoundMiner)

I also have another drive I use for Final Cut capture scratch...

For a mini, I'd look at putting your OS and apps on the main drive and putting all PT audio on the other one. Then I'd really suggest looking into separate drives later to run your video files and maybe a sound fx library, if you do post work.

  • Hey there Chris! I do have some fx libraries I use for working in post. So I guess, according to your recommendation, with the 2 drives I will have at the moment, I should place the library in the 2nd drive, together with all audio? May 11, 2012 at 2:31
  • -your rig is great! I have another question, if you don't mind... How does it help to have the FX library in a different drive than the drive 3 in your rig? is it only to keep drive 3 clean of other data?--my question could relate to this one: so, when you are working, and choose a sound from an FX library from drive 5, then you put it into pro tools, then you would be reading it from drive 3 right?> Thanks! May 11, 2012 at 2:31
  • Yeah, it's all about disk space and drive throughput when it comes to a sound library. The ideal setup is to import your fx as a reference, rather than actually copying them over. Of course, if your ProTools session is going to be moving from one rig to another, that's not a great idea. But as a solo rig, I have SoundMiner set up to not actually copy the audio to my ProTools audio folder, but rather to just reference the original audio from my Library drive. That way, I have my audio streaming from two separate drives, causing less of a bottleneck in my throughput. May 12, 2012 at 5:22
  • ...But I do notice a difference in disk lag by splitting up my audio. It's a lot like using PT's "round robin" feature (but I'm not a fan of that). But for you, I'd probably recommend putting it on your primary drive. It won't be doing anything but taking up space, unless you're actually physically streaming fx from it. And if you have your rig set to reference (rather than copy), and it starts to slow down, you can always set future fx to copy to drive 2, saving that throughput. But if you put it on your audio drive 1st & your throughput backs up, you can't put those fx files anywhere. May 12, 2012 at 5:28
  • ...tough to explain in just two comments...lemme know if you have any questions or need clarification on what I'm trying to say, haha! May 12, 2012 at 5:29

As to why you should separate your OS/Apps and audio drive, it's mainly due to read/write speed and disk seek time. Your hard drives can only read data from one physical location at a time (less the case with SSD), so if everything is on one drive your computer will have a harder time jumping back and forth on disk reading data for apps and OS processes while also trying to stream audio. Separating out audio to another disk means the computer can handle audio from one HD (which takes a good deal of HD resources) while apps and OS related data can be read from the other without tying up audio read/write.

Of course CPU and RAM will also limit overall performance, but this will help avoid your HD being the weak link. Best to make sure your audio scratch drive is also as fast as possible, i.e. 7200 rpm, with a decent cache size.

The secondary reason as most people are aware is that audio of course takes up lots of disk space, so a dedicated drive will afford you as much storage room as possible.

  • Thank you! it makes lots of sense now :), I have my mac mini now and I will let you all know how it works when I have it all set and running :D May 16, 2012 at 6:54

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